D.C. is revamping its administrative systems

The District of Columbia's Administrative Services Department will spend $71.5 million over the next five years to replace its paper-laden administrative processes.

Sanford Lazar, director of key systems for the District's chief technology officer, said the systems to be replaced under the Administrative Services and Modernization Program handle procurement, human resources, budgeting and property management.

About 20,000 District employees will access the new enterprise resource planning system over the Web, Lazar said.

The department now processes personnel actions and procurements on layers of carbon paper, Lazar said. A single purchase order can go through as many as eight steps and approvals.

SeeBeyond Technology Corp. of Monrovia, Calif., will pull the ERP data from existing mainframe systems, some of them 20 years old. The company will use its Integration Business Suite middleware, written in C and C++ and running under IBM AIX, senior account executive Thomas Craver said.

There is no single prime contractor, Lazar said. Accenture LLP of Chicago is integrating the hardware and software, and Keane Consulting Group of Boston is working with District employees on program management.

The administrative modules will come into play in phases. The procurement system will go live in April, then the HR system. The District wants to finish all upgrades by the end of 2005, Craver said.

The city will save money by taking this gradual approach, Lazar said. An organization that adopts an ERP system generally buys as many as 12 applications from one vendor.

'When you do that, you pay license fees on modules that you may not implement for four years,' he said. 'Or you may decide you don't even want to use a module. It wastes a lot of money.' Washington officials estimated the ERP system would save the city about $150 million during the five-year implementation and about $55 million each year thereafter.

'We'll be able to aggregate purchases and eliminate redundant work,' Lazar said. 'In a paper-based system, there's a lot of time spent on tracking''I sent the form, did you get it?' This system has guaranteed tracking.'

Lazar said District officials talked with agency directors and hundreds of users to get their feedback in developing the system.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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